Diarrheal diseases cause about 10% of deaths of children under the age of 5. Recently, it was revealed that cryptosporidiosis is the second leading cause of this severe diarrhea disease. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine and no effective treatments are available. In the Pawlowic lab, we use genetic tools to better understand the basic biology of this overlooked protozoan parasite. Specifically, we are interested in the Cryptosporidium oocyst. The oocyst is the life cycle stage that is transmitted through the faecal-oral route via contaminated water or food. The oocyst is incredibly resilient and can withstand most water treatments, including chlorination (bleach!). Over the last year, the Pawlowic lab described the oocyst wall proteome. Using genetics, biochemistry, and microscopy, we aim to discover how the protein components of the oocyst form such a protective structure and how these proteins function in parasite transmission. As a PhD student, you will have the freedom to investigate several interesting candidates from this proteome.
We collaborate closely with the Drug Discovery Unit and Mode of Action team to translate what we learn in the lab into new technologies and treatments for cryptosporidiosis. Matti Pawlowic was voted the postgraduate mentor of the year in the School of Life Sciences (2020). The Pawlowic lab values collaborativeness, dedication, honesty, trustworthiness, and enthusiasm!
- Vinayak S, Pawlowic MC et al. Genetic modification of the diarrhoeal pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum. Nature. 2015 ;523(7561):477-80. (News and Views Article: Beverley SM. Parasitology: CRISPR for Cryptosporidium. Nature. 2015 523(7561):413-4.
- Baragaña B, et al. Lysyl-tRNA synthetase as a drug target in malaria and cryptosporidiosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 116:7015-7020.
- Guérin A, Striepen B. The Biology of the Intestinal Intracellular Parasite Cryptosporidium. Cell Host Microbe. 2020 28, 509-515.
- Tandel J, English ED, Sateriale A, Gullicksrud JA, Beiting DP, Sullivan MC, Pinkston B, Striepen B. Life cycle progression and sexual development of the apicomplexan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. Nat Microbiol. 2019: 2226-2236.